April 4, 2016 at 6:00 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
Democrats highlight pro-LGBT positions in Md. congressional race

Jamie Raskin, Kathleen Matthews, Maryland, gay news, Washington Blade

State Sen. Jamie Raskin and former Marriott International executive Kathleen Matthews are running for Rep. Chris Van Hollen’s seat in Congress. (Washington Blade file photos by Michael Key)

The Democrats who are seeking to succeed Maryland Congressman Chris Van Hollen continue to highlight their efforts in support of LGBT rights ahead of the April 26 primary.

An ad for state Sen. Jamie Raskin (D-Montgomery County) on local television notes his efforts to spur passage of Maryland’s same-sex marriage bill in 2012. The Montgomery County Democrat also played a leading role in securing passage of a measure two years later that added gender identity to the state’s nondiscrimination law.

Businessman David Trone notes in a campaign ad that his company began offering domestic partner benefits to employees more than a decade ago.

Kathleen Matthews, a former Marriott International executive, notes on her campaign website that anti-transgender discrimination in employment and housing is illegal in Maryland. The former WJLA reporter who is married to MSNBC’s Chris Matthews said she would co-sponsor the Equality Act, which would add LGBT-specific language to federal civil rights law, if elected.

“I will work to ensure its passage and look forward to serving as a co-sponsor once elected,” says Kathleen Matthews on her campaign website.

State Del. Kumar Barve (D-Montgomery County) was the chief sponsor of a 2011 same-sex marriage bill that narrowly died in the Maryland House of Delegates. The Montgomery County Democrat appeared on “The Kojo Nnamdi Show” and in other local media outlets to discuss his support of the issue.

Will Jawando last fall donated two campaign donations he received from former Turing Pharmaceuticals CEO Martin Shkreli to the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington.

“There’s no mistaking Will’s strong support of anti-price-gouging relations for drug companies and Hillary Clinton’s proposal to allow Medicare to negotiate with the industry for lower prices for seniors,” a campaign spokesperson told the Washington Blade earlier this year.

Joel Rubin, a former State Department official, includes LGBT-specific issues on his website.

He, like Kathleen Matthews, supports the Equality Act. Rubin highlighted his position in a tweet in which he criticized the passage of a North Carolina law last month that bans local LGBT rights ordinances and block trans people from using public restrooms consistent with their gender identity.

State Del. Ana Sol Gutierrez (D-Montgomery County) also voted in support of the marriage and trans rights bills. Dan Bolling has also spoken for the aforementioned issues.

“All Americans deserve to live life free of discrimination…irrespective of race, gender, composition or sexual orientation,” writes Washington Center Senior Vice President David Anderson on his campaign website.

No ‘bad choices’

Van Hollen is running against Congresswoman Donna Edwards in the April 26 Democratic primary to succeed retiring U.S. Sen. Barbara Mikulski (D-Md.).

Larry Jacobs, chair of Equality Maryland’s board of directors, told the Blade last week that there are not “any bad choices” among the Democrats who hope to succeed Van Hollen.

The Equality Maryland PAC does not endorse in federal races. Jacobs nevertheless said that he would vote for Raskin if he lived in the district.

“There’s something to be said for Jamie having been there for us for decades,” said Jacobs. “He’s smart. He’s accomplished. He’s been supportive.”

Gender Rights Maryland Executive Director Dana Beyer conceded she doesn’t know anything but Bolling, but “everyone else says the requisite supportive words” about LGBT-specific issues.

Beyer particularly singled out Raskin and Kathleen Matthews for their efforts.

“We all know Jamie’s record,” said Beyer. “Having worked with Kathleen while she was as Marriott I know how she changed that company from bottom to top on LGBT issues, including Bill Marriott.”

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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